Male practice squad challenges WSU Women

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) -- The Wichita State Women's basketball team is riding a two-game win streak, it's first of the conference season, and they may have another team to thank.

The Bombers is an all-male practice squad developed this year by Head Coach Keitha Adams. After a social media campaign, her team of 15 Bombers was formed from former high school and college basketball players.

"One of our weaknesses of our team is not being physical and we feel like this is a great way for our players to be challenged with having 'The Bombers' in here to play physical and get physical right back," she said.

Junior Isaiah Figueroa said the women have improved their physicality since he joined them last semester...perhaps a bit too much.

"A lot of the box-out stuff we do in practice, honestly I wear a long sleeve to keep them away," he said. "You can tell that they've gotten a lot more physical as we've gone on throughout the season. What Keitha's been preaching has all come together now. It's becoming more of a habit now."

Adams and Assistant Coach Jeff Osterman discuss the scouting report with The Bombers before and during practice. It's then their responsibility to act as the opponent and go as hard as possible against The Shockers.

"We try to go 110 percent during practice so when it comes to game-time, it's easy for them," Sophomore Joshua Elouidor said.

In case you had any doubts, these Bombers are not worried about any stigmas attached to playing on a women's team.

"Just because we're guys, doesn't mean we can't play hard," Elouidor said. "At the end of the day, it's going to help them out."

Adams agrees. She knows The Bombers will play as hard as any opponent they'll face on the court, and expects her Shockers to practice at game speed.

"If we come in and we're not mentally ready to practice, it's going to wake you up! You've got to be awake to go against those guys," she said.

This year's Shockers team is composed of mostly freshmen and transfers. Coach Adams said she spent the majority of the first semester easing her players into the system. Once they felt more comfortable, The Bombers were introduced slowly to rev up competition.

Now, at the start of the second semester, they're playing a crucial role. The Shockers got out to an 0-5 start in conference play. After winter break, the focus was turned back to boxing out and reducing turnovers.

Figueroa was the sole Bomber at practice during break. He said things improved immensely when the rest of his squad returned. The team picked up the intensity and saw two-consecutive wins as a result.

"It's fun seeing them succeed at a high level," he said. "When they win, the way they feel afterward, you know you were a part of that, and you just know you helped them out in the long run."